L.A. County Health Services, with partners from the Tabernacle Community Development Corporation, launched a new program to expand access to free community-based COVID-19 testing in the Black community. The testing expansion is part of the Black Church COVID-19 Testing Partnership, a statewide initiative that will have 35 Black churches across California host pop-up COVID-19 testing. The program goal is to test 150 individuals at each church location daily through June 30.
The launch included drive-thru COVID-19 testing on-site at First AME Church of Los Angeles, the oldest church founded by African Americans in the city and one of the eight churches that will host COVID-19 testing sites. Testing at these church locations is free to the community regardless of health insurance status and will be available through June 30. The new testing sites at the eight churches will not require appointments, reducing barriers that can keep community members from getting tested.
Faith leaders and the church community have and continue to be a trusted source of information and influence for the Black community. Black churches will serve as a known and trusted safe space for accessing testing, given the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on the Black community.
“Throughout this past year, we have witnessed firsthand the disparate impacts of the pandemic on our Black communities due to years of underinvestment and structural racism,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis. “Whether it’s their physical, mental, or financial well-being, Black communities have been devastated by COVID-19. That’s why it’s important that we not only devote more time and resources to address this disparity, but we must also work with trusted community- and faith-based organizations who are best equipped to meet the needs of the communities they serve.”
“The concept of opening testing centers in neighborhood churches makes it entirely convenient for persons to be tested in neighborhoods where they live and/or work,” said Rev. J Edgar Boyd, Senior Minister and CEO of First AME Church of Los Angeles. “Today, the African American Community Empowerment Council of California, working in collaboration with the Tabernacle Community Development Corporation of San Francisco, will launch an effort to provide testing to communities that have been under-tested and under-served. Such a lack of services, in Black communities in California, and across America, has resulted in a disproportionate and an inequitable higher percentage of deaths and infections by this deadly pandemic.”
For more information, visit aacec-cal.org/covid19testing.